ISLAMABAD : Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi travelled to North Waziristan Agency (NWA) on Monday in a first visit by a chief executive to the rugged tribal region after the military successfully drove local and foreign militant outfits out of the area.
Accompanied by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Abbasi got the first-hand account of the military’s operational gains in NWA – once considered the headquarters of the Afghan Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network and home to various other groups.
Prime Minister and COAS visited NWA. PM inaugurated Miranshah Market Complex and Ghulam Khan Trade Terminal. “Rehabilitation of TDPs and socio-economic uplift of FATA is priority objective of the govt. Army has done its job, now turn of political administration”, PM. pic.twitter.com/eE2lnvCHkg— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) April 30, 2018
The civilian government was often criticised for lack of political ownership of the anti-terror fight because none of the prime ministers had hitherto visited Waziristan.
The visit was even more significant given the fact that Abbasi’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is at odds with the military establishment because of the ouster of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister in July last year.
PM lauded brave tribesmen for their unwavering support in fight against terrorism and ridding these areas from terrorists. “Mainstreaming of FATA is key to its long term progress and prosperity for which govt is working in line with aspirations of the people of FATA”, PM. pic.twitter.com/AUfaBqmU0t— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) April 30, 2018
PM Abbasi, Gen Qamar visit SSG Headquarters in Cherat
According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the prime minister along with the army chief visited Miramshah and Ghulam Khan areas of NWA.
The premier inaugurated the Miramshah Market Complex and the Ghulam Khan Trade Terminal.
“Miramshah is the gateway to Central Asia,” said the PM while addressing a gathering of tribal elders.
He said the rehabilitation of temporarily dislocated persons (TDPs) and socio-economic uplift of Fata was a priority objective of the government.
“The army has played its due role in bringing back peace to North Waziristan. Now the local administration and political agents must take the responsibility to maintain peace and tranquillity in the tribal region,” he said.
Abbasi lauded the brave tribesmen for their unwavering support in fight against terrorism and ridding the tribal areas of terrorists.
“The people of Fata made sacrifices to root out terrorism. Now it’s incumbent on us to ensure that we will not let the menace return to the tribal region,” he added.
He said the government and all political parties were serious in bringing Fata into the national mainstream, and efforts in the context had witnessed significant progress.
The PM said the people of Fata should be provided the facilities that people in Lahore and other parts of the country enjoyed.
“If there’s no peace in Miramshah, there will be no peace in Islamabad. If there’s no peace in Fata, there will be no peace in Pakistan. We have to look ahead and strive for mainstreaming of Fata,” he said.
Abbasi said the army’s efforts to rehabilitate the tribal region were not hidden from anybody.
“General Bajwa just told me that the shopkeepers who suffered loss will also be compensated,” he told the audience.
The PM described the mainstreaming of Fata as the key to its long-term progress and prosperity for which “the government is working in line with the aspirations of the people of Fata”.
Earlier, on arrival in Miramshah, PM Abbasi laid a floral wreath on the martyrs’ monument.
He offered fateha for the martyrs of Pakistan who rendered supreme sacrifices for restoration of peace and stability, said the ISPR in a statement.
The Miramshah Market Complex constructed by the Pakistan Army engineers includes 1,344 shops, parks, car parking, solar lights, driveways and water supply network. The Ghulam Khan Trade Terminal is part of the Central Trade Corridor.
“These newly constructed trade terminal and communication infrastructure in tribal areas will connect this market complex with the CPEC at Dera Ismail Khan and will have its share in national and regional trade routes and commercial dividends, awaiting a new chapter of prosperity and economic uplift of the area,” stated the ISPR.
In his remarks, the prime minister said that these socio-economic projects were just the beginning and many more such projects were in the pipeline for Fata, in addition to the ones which had been completed or were in progress across Fata.
The elders of the Utmanzai tribe called upon the visiting leaders to ensure that promises made to the affectees of Operation Zarb-e-Azb are fulfilled. They demanded ‘reasonable’ compensation to the affected traders, shopkeepers and house owners.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, ministers, senators and the Peshawar corps commander were also present during the visit.
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